The degradation of the cornea is one of the leading causes of blindness in the world, and was previously only addressed through expensive, sometimes risky procedures and on-going supplementary treatment like contacts or glasses.
But today researchers have successfully created a better and more affordable method of not only addressing symptoms as a result of tissue degeneration, but actually reversing its degradation.
As the year comes to a close we find ourselves reflecting on 2012. Regenerative medicine is progressing rapidly and as we reported throughout 2012, the emerging gold standard in stem cell treatments utilize autologous [the patient’s own] stem cells. 2013 looks to be an exciting year and we look forward to keeping you abreast of the latest developments in stem cells and regenerative medicine.
Happy Holidays and wishing you a fantastic and healthy New Year!!
Nearly half a million babies in the U.S. are born premature every year (that’s roughly 1 in every 8 children). Many of them require medical assistance during the first weeks of life, especially due to their under-developed lungs. Babies that are born premature are often put on breathing machines as their lungs finish maturing, but there can be negative side effects of these measures: many children (as many as 10,000) develop a condition called bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or BPD.
But research headed by Bernard Thébaud, a neonatologist and senior scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and CHEO Research Institute, demonstrates that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can help repair damaged lungs in animal studies involving newborn rats, which have lungs that are roughly similar to a human fetus at 24 weeks of development.
Researchers at University of Wisconsin’s McPherson Eye Research Institute are utilizing stem cells to develop a patient-specific model of a rare form of macular degeneration – Best Disease. The model has led researchers to a better understanding of the cellular processes that cause the disease which should lead to the development of more effective treatment options.
At this year’s American Heart Association Scientific Sessions, abstracts reporting on clinical trials involving the use of stem cells to treat various types of heart disease, such as Acute Myocardial Infarction and Ischemic Cardiomyopathy, were presented.
Last month we reported on new technology that successfully prints organs using an ink jet printer. Recently researchers at Wake Forest University succeeded in enhancing the technology by combining the ink jet printer with an electro-spinning machine in order to print cartilage. This new hybrid printer produces stronger, more mechanically stable materials than other kinds of artificial cartilage that have been produced in the past while also simplifying the process of making implantable cartilage.
Researchers at the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) and the University of Toronto find that a fusion of combined growth factors with older stem cells can cause them to function like younger cells. Enhanced techniques for the regeneration/proliferation of stem cells, as demonstrated in the IBBME research, will likely accelerate the development of autologous stem cell treatments, which we believe are emerging as the gold standard of regenerative treatments. The ability to successfully culture the patient’s own stem cells in vitro [outside the body] to clinically relevant numbers and then transplant them back into the patient represents a significant milestone in fostering the widespread application of stem cell treatments.
Like many forms of chronic disease, diabetes is on the rise in the U.S. and globally. Diabetes causes many complications, a very common symptom being the development of ulcers in feet. Often, this results in the amputation of the foot. In addition, according to Dr. Sankaranarayanan, “if left untreated, patients with diabetic foot ulcer may develop serious cardiac and renal complications.”
Heart surgeons around the world are exploring the benefits of using stem cell therapies in conjunction with major surgical procedures as a means of increasing efficacy. Dr Mukesh Hariawala of Mumbai’s Jaslok Hospital will conduct the first of a new ‘triple therapy’ for bypass patients in early 2013. This ‘natural’ bypass therapy involves of a combination of angiogenesis, stem cell therapy, and a bypass surgery to treat progressive heart conditions.
The 2012 World Stem Cell Summit is taking place in West Palm Beach this year and will run from December 3 through December 5. As one of the premier stem cell conferences, the Summit provides a forum for leaders in the stem cell field from all over the world to gather to share research, collaborate and develop cross disciplinary strategies to accelerate advances in stem cell therapies.